TOKYO – North Korea’s main newspaper accused the United States on Sunday of staging military drills to prepare an invasion while at the same time pursuing dialogue “with a smile on its face.”
Rodong Sinmun, the official mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea, cited alleged U.S. troop movements in the region which it called “extremely provocative and dangerous” and said they threatened to derail the dialogue between the United States and North Korea.
The U.S. military called the accusation “far-fetched.”
The opinion piece came two days after President Donald Trump canceled a planned trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing a lack of progress in getting North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons.
The Rodong Sinmun piece did not mention Trump by name, nor the decision to cancel Pompeo’s trip. Media controlled by the Pyongyang regime has been careful not to criticize Trump directly since his June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reserving its occasional ire for Pompeo and other members of the administration. But the timing of the piece may be more than coincidence.
Rodong Sinmun cited a South Korean radio broadcast claiming that U.S. “special units” had recently flown to the Philippines, arguing this was a drill simulating “infiltration into Pyongyang.” It also claimed that the USS Michigan nuclear submarine had transported “Green Berets, Delta Force and other special units” from Okinawa, Japan to the Jinhae naval base in South Korea in late July or early August.
Col. John Hutcheson, the director of public affairs for U.S. Forces Japan, said he wasn’t sure what drills the piece was referring to.
“U.S. aircraft routinely fly from Japan to the Philippines and other nations around the region for a variety of training and operational reasons, so the notion that any single flight is related to North Korea is a bit far fetched,” he wrote in an email.
Rodong Sinmun argued the acts “prove that the U.S. is hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war against the DPRK” in case Washington fails to achieve denuclearization. That would be a crime that deserves “merciless divine punishment,” it said.
“We cannot but take a serious note of the double-dealing attitudes of the U.S. as it is busy staging secret drills involving man-killing special units while having a dialogue with a smile on its face,” the opinion piece continued.